It seems pretty certain that the Braves will sign Tim Hudson to a three-year contract extension in the coming days. Word on the street is that it'll be somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 million per year, which is definitely less than he'd fetch out in the free market. He made it quite clear, however, that he wanted to remain a Brave and that he would go the "hometown discount" route in order to stay. The Braves only have until shortly after the World Series to work out a new contract or they'll have to make a decision on the $12 club option for 2010 that is in Hudson's current contract.
Since the deal appears to be done for all intents and purposes, this raises the question of who will be bumped from the Braves rotation to make room for Hudson. Do the Braves part with Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami, Javier Vazquez or Tommy Hanson? Before I tell you what Braves.com is saying, I'll give you some info so you can make your own decision:
Contract Terms: 2009-2012 at $60 million ($15 million/year left for each year 2010-2012)
2009 Stats: 15-10, 4.67 ERA, .301 opponent AVG (compared to 14-11, 3.24 ERA, .246 opponent AVG in 2008)
Notable: 34 starts for the second year in a row (1st in NL both years)
Contract Terms: 2009 at $450,000 (roughly 2.5 years of Major League service)
2009 Stats: 14-10, 2.60 ERA, .237 opponent AVG (compared to 13-10, 3.68 ERA, .260 opponent AVG in 2008)
Notable: Tied for 1st in NL with Derek Lowe at 34 starts. Also, came in 3rd in the NL with his impressive 2.60 ERA.
Contract Terms: 2008-2010 at $34.5 million ($11.5 million left for 2010)
2009 Stats: 15-10, 2.87 ERA, .223 opponent AVG (compared to 12-16, 4.67 ERA, .263 opponent AVG in 2008)
Notable: His 238 strikeouts were enough to earn him 2nd best in the NL
Contract Terms: 2009-2011 at $23 million ($6.667 for 2010 and $6.667 for 2011 left)
2009 Stats: 7-12, 3.86 ERA, .260 opponent AVG
Notable: Kawakami was not at the top of the NL in any category. It should also be noted that he participated in a 6-day rotation in Japan. Most Japanese pitchers take a little time to get used to the 5-day rotation.
Contract Terms: 2009 at $400,0002009 Stats: 11-4, 2.89 ERA, .225 opponent AVG (first appeared on the Major League roster June 7, 2009)
Notable: Up for the Rookie of the Year Award against J.A. Happ (who shouldn't be considered a rookie since he pitched in one game in 2007 and eight in 2008)
So, who do you think should be traded to make room for Tim Hudson in the rotation? My gut reaction was Derek Lowe. However, after writing this, I've changed my mind (I hear that's a woman's perogative). If the Braves aren't going to have the money to sign Javier Vazquez beyond 2010, then he's the obvious choice. I would like to see the Braves sign him to a long-term contract, but I think it's highly unlikely. If that's the case, then let's see what we can get for him instead of losing him to free agency. If the Braves think they can hang on to him beyond 2010, then I favor trading Derek Lowe. Unfortunately, I don't think there will be a willing buyer there. So who do I think it'll be in the end? Javier Vazquez, which breaks my heart a little. That being said, I it's been a long time since we've had too many quality starting pitchers in the lineup! I can't say it's a bad problem to have.
What are the Braves saying? Well, according to an article on Braves.com, the Braves will be shopping Lowe all over Major League Baseball in an attempt to avoid parting ways with Javier Vazquez. Must make Derek Lowe feel warm and fuzzy inside.